Since my last visit to Tarsus, I have been trying to investigate about the origins of the historical houses there. All my research ended up in nothing. All I could find was that they were being renovated for some time now and they were of great historical value.
Even a blind man could see they are of great historical value. But apparently no decent research into their origins, and most importantly about their architects have been made. In my observances, I came to the vague conclusion that many of them are designed by one or a family of Armenian architects. These are inspirational. Due to the geographical location of the city, Tarsus gets very weak winds during the summer, especially if you are close to the ground level. The streets were done in ancient times so they were rarely designed according to the direction of winds. This genius architect did something: he designed the facades of these houses so that each enclosed balcony on the second level is situated with a 30 degrees angle to the street facing the wind direction. Each room breathes in sufficient amount of wind that way. I have no idea as to why this architect disappeared from the records. I have no idea if this something to do with massacres of 1909 in Adana, or for some now-obscure reason.
Ornaments are totally a different story. One can observe the abundance of fleur de lys over the windows and doors. Does this denote catholic presence? Were the original occupants were catholic Armenians or Levantines? Many still show off their impeccable woodwork, the others display fine works of masonry.
Many of these houses host cafes, bars or restaurants nowadays. It’s a good thing because that way you may still visit them which makes you appreciate usage of space and functionality inside. There are spaces joining different areas for separate functionalities located in different levels. Some of the houses were then converted to fit Islamic needs of separation of spaces for different genders. But most stay intact; very introvert in lifestyle, very extrovert in decorations.
Maybe during the last years efforts have been made to revive their glory, but it is still saddening to see them in the middle of a wasted southern town which no longer reflects the glorious life of has-beens. Naturally times has changed and no effort has been made to protect many riches of Cilicia.
Still one must visit Tarsus, once a center of Christianity, education and culture. The relics themselves tell a story very few places could tell in modern times.